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Campus workers protest possible outsourcing at rally

Employees and students from the UT Health Science Center and the University of Memphis banded together to show their disapproval of Governor Haslam’s proposal of outsourcing state jobs on the corner of Union Avenue and East Street during Thursday’s protest.

Car horns could be heard from a mile away as more than 40 campus workers rallied chanting “Tennessee is not for sale” and “Hey, hey, Governor Haslam’s got to go.”

 “I came to the rally because outsourcing would be horrible for both our campus workers and our campus,” said Alex Uhlmann, a recent graduate of the U of M.  “The University of Memphis is a public institution paid for by the tax payers of Tennessee and it should not be used as a money maker for wealthy private businesses.”

With a net worth of $2 billion, Haslam is currently the richest elected official in America.  If given the chance, protestors would have a few choice words for him.

“I would tell Haslam, that as the richest politician in America, he should realize that campus workers’ jobs deserve a living wage, not to have their pay cut to poverty wages and have their benefits disappear,” Uhlmann said.

Thousands of state employees could see their jobs and benefits disappear as a result of outsourcing.  Employees at college campuses, state parks, hospitals, armories and prisons would have to reapply for their jobs, possibly at a lower salary.

“Nine times out of ten, the company that Governor Haslam brings in will lay us off and make us reapply for our jobs without the benefits that we are now receiving,” said Michael Williams, an employee at UT Health Science Center.  “The university pays for us and our kids to go to school and they want to take that away from us.”

If the workers are fired and replaced by employees of major corporations, outsourcing would not only affect the workers, but their families and communities as well.

“We have families to support,” said David Coburn, a UT Health Science employee.  “It would affect not only us, but our kids and grandkids.”

A UT employee could have worked there for over 30 years, but “it will not matter” according to Coburn.

“State wide outsourcing would have a negative impact,” said Jessica Buttermore, the chair of the policy and campaign committee and a University of Memphis employee.  “It is a win-win for big corporations and a lose-lose for all of us.”

According to Haslam, he wants to cut back spending on maintenance.

"What we're trying to solve is, we spend a lot of money on our facilities, in rent and maintenance and other ways. Can we provide that same function at a lower cost?" Haslam told reporters at The Tennessean.

Even after the dust settled from the protest, the United Campus Workers do not have plans to slow down anytime soon. The workers are planning to travel to Nashville in hopes of voicing their concerns about outsourcing with Haslam.

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